Roy Hodgson’s decision to start Andros Townsend against Montenegro was vindicated by a man of the match performance from the Tottenham winger, but he could be guilty of erroneous tinkering if reports that he plans to drop Frank Lampard in favour of Michael Carrick are true.
The Chelsea man is 8/1 to have the last laugh with the final goal of the evening, a bet which will be refunded by bwin should he not get onto the pitch.
England had 61 per cent of possession with Lampard and Steven Gerrard in the middle against Montenegro.
Few would have confused the oft-maligned pairing of the two best English midfielders of their generation for tiki-taka Lilliputians Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez, but they did form a solid possession-guarding base for an emphatic 4-1 England victory.
Hodgson has only started Carrick in two safety-first away games during this qualifying campaign.
The brace of matches in which the Geordie Pirlo featured alongside Gerrard were both 1-1 draws in which England failed to protect a 1-0 lead – hardly a very glowing endorsement of his ability to ringlead a miserly ball retention tactic.
Furthermore the deployment of a man previously used in matches where not losing was the primary objective points to a worryingly conservative approach to a must-win game from the England gaffer.
Lampard has scored one less England goal than Carrick has caps for his country.
Lampard’s 29 strikes for the Three Lions may have been accumulated in 71 more caps than his centre-midfield rival but the Old Trafford centre-circle-orbiter has yet to register even once during his 30 appearances.
Apart from being a general barometer of Hodgson’s pragmatism, the inclusion of Carrick also robs England of a reliable source of goals which could prove vital if Poland prove hard to break down at Wembley.